Our Alumni Succeed in the Hearing World



Alumnae Lina Reiss, from the Preschool class of 1980, is now an Associate Professor in the Otolaryngology Department at Oregon Health and Science University, and researches hearing loss, hearing aids, and cochlear implants. Identified with profound hearing loss at age 2 1/2, Lina was able to go to mainstream K-12 schools, graduate from Princeton University and earn her Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University.  Read more about the research lab that Lina’s directs. An article on her childhood journey, including Summit Speech School, can be found in this article from the Oregon news.


Diagnosed with a profound hearing loss at 13 months, Andrea enrolled at Summit Speech School in 1981 at the age of 2 years and 9 months, and graduated in 1984. She credits Summit Speech School for giving her an early start at developing speech and language and playing a big role in her success today. After leaving Summit Speech School, Andrea attended Brookdale Elementary School in Bloomfield, NJ and later transferred to Bergen County Special Services to be taught in a self-contained oral classroom. She graduated from Mountain Lakes High School in 1996 and was admitted to Rochester Institute of Technology, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design.

Throughout her academic career, Andrea was active in extracurricular activities including gymnastics, dancing, twirling, cheerleading, basketball, and softball. Her academic and athletic honors earned Andrea the Tony Danza Second Wind Scholarship Award from the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. In 1997, she won the Miss Deaf New Jersey Pageant. Andrea’s platform as Miss Deaf New Jersey encouraged parents to involve their deaf children in a wide array of activities to help shape their future. After working for several years at Revlon, Andrea is now employed with Peter Thomas Roth Clinical Skin Care as a packaging/graphic designer in New York City.


Summit Speech School alumnus, Brick Reilly is a good example of how a new generation of technology can make a difference. Brick, who has been profoundly deaf since birth, wore hearing aids until he got an implant as an adult. Brick is a full time employee for the Town of Linden and is also pursuing a degree in speech pathology.

In addition to his busy schedule, Brick continues to mentor hearing impaired teenagers and comes back to Summit Speech School at annual events. Brick also enjoys training and competing for triathlons. CLICK HERE to read about Brick's appearance on American Gladiator and to see his video!


Abby attended Summit Speech School from 1987 to 1991. She was mainstreamed into the Montclair Public School District and then went to Mountain Lakes High School.

“I am very happy I went to Summit Speech School because if I didn’t, I feel I wouldn’t have been able to speak as well as I do today,” says Abby. “It was also great for me to meet other kids who were hard of hearing as well, which exposed me to many more things. It is just a wonderful place with wonderful teachers and the other people that work there.”

“One of the goals that I have for myself is just to enjoy myself in what I do, where I go, and what I have experienced. I want to be successful in whatever I do,” says Abby.


A 1970 preschool graduate of the Summit Speech School, Michael Chorost has a B.A. from Brown University and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of two books, Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made me More Human, and World Wide Mind. He has published numerous articles, given over 170 lectures around the world, and is currently working on a science fiction novel. 

Michael was born hard of hearing due to rubella during the epidemic in the 1960’s. Six of his classmates at the Summit Speech School were also deafened by the same virus. He began classes at the school at the age of three and a half and graduated from the preschool program in June of 1970. Michael attributes much of his success to the early education and therapy he received at Summit Speech School.

Upon suddenly losing all of his residual hearing in his thirties, Michael decided that rather than live in silence, he would get a cochlear implant. The implant was only the first step in learning to hear again. He also had to learn to interpret the new electrical signals he was now receiving. This experience was the basis of his first book. He now lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and their two cats, Posy and Mr. Orange. 


From her start at Summit Speech School at age 4 1⁄2 to her success at the Wardlaw Hartridge School, Shelly Edelman is the type of role model that every school would be proud to have.

After two years at Summit Speech School, Shelly enrolled in the Featherbed Lane kindergarten. Her kindergarten teacher saw Shelly’s potential and recommended she attend Wardlaw Hartridge – a school known for its rigorous curriculum. Since Shelly was speech delayed and required support services, Wardlaw accepted her into the 1 st grade on a trial basis to see if she could handle the class work. She successfully completed 1 st grade and never looked back. Her kindergarten teacher’s assessment wasn’t wrong.

Last year, as a 7th grader, Shelly won an “Honorable Mention” in a Public Speaking contest at her school. Shelly does more than study, however. In her free time, Shelly likes to knit, swim, bike, read and as she says “Of course, SHOP!”


Sandra was diagnosed with a severe to profound hearing loss at the age of 15 months. She became a student at the Summit Speech School at the age of 17 months and graduated at age five. Throughout her grammar school years, Sandra was placed in mainstream classes and only required limited special services. Sandra was placed in all honors classes in middle school and was accepted into the highly acclaimed Academy for Information Technology (AIT) in Scotch Plains. She discovered her passion for medicine and attended Springfield College in Massachusetts and received her Bachelor and Master of science in Physician Assistant studies in 2016.

Sandra is currently a board certified physician assistant practicing gastroenterology in the southcoast region of Massachusetts. Sandra continues to swim competitively in open swim competitions after swimming at the collegiate level at Springfield College.


A role model, National Honor Society member, athlete, and teacher – all of these describe Summit Speech School alumna Jennifer Samelson who graduated in 1986 at the age of five.

After leaving Summit Speech School, Jennifer was mainstreamed into the Greenbrook Elementary School in South Brunswick. As a way to raise awareness and sensitivity for hearing impaired students in her school district, she spoke to her peers about hearing loss and deafness. Jennifer achieved many honors during her school career including membership in the National Honor Society, French Honor Society and the Student Council.

Jennifer later pursued a Bachelor's degree at Rutgers University. She became captain of the Rutgers Ski Team as well as a trainee with the US Deaf Ski Team. She competed in the 2003 Deaflypmics in Sundsvall, Sweden. Jennifer graduated from Rutgers with honors in Journalism and French. Recently, Jennifer has begun working towards a Master's degree in Deaf Education and Elementary Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.

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